Ecclesiastes 8:1-17

8  Who is like the wise man? and who knows the explanation of a thing? A man’s wisdom puts light into his face, and the hardness of his face is changed. 2 *** Comply with a king’s words; and, in view of your oath by God, 3  do not be in consternation, go away from his presence; do not stand in a bad business. For he does anything he chooses to, 4  inasmuch as a king’s word is authoritative, and who will say to him “What are you doing?” 5  A commandment-keeper will know nothing of a bad business; and a wise man’s heart will know time and judgment, 6  for every affair has a time and a judgment, because man has much evil upon him, 7  because he does not know what is to come; for when it is coming, who is to tell him? 8  There is no man who controls the wind so as to shut off the wind; and nobody is in control of the day of death; and there is no dismissal in war; and wrong will not bring safety to those who commit it. 9 * All this I saw, keeping my mind on all the work that was done under the sun, at a time when man had control of man to his own harm. 10 * And then I saw wrong-doers buried, and coming in, out of a holy place, and their bad record forgotten in the city. This too is nonsense, 11 ** that sentence on evil-doing is not quickly executed; therefore the hearts of mankind are altogether determined to do evil, 12 ** inasmuch as a sinner does evil all along and has a long life—though I do know that for those who fear God there will be good inasmuch as they stand in fear before him, 13  but for the wrong-doer there will not be good and he will have no long life, like a shadow, inasmuch as he does not stand in fear before God. 14  There is a piece of nonsense that is done on earth, that there are right-doers to whom there happens what is suitable to wrong-doers’ work and there are wrong-doers to whom there happens what is suitable to right-doers’ work. I say this is nonsense too. 15 * And I praise merrymaking, inasmuch as there is nothing good for man under the sun but to eat and drink and make merry, and he will have that to go with him for his trouble through his time of life which God has given to him under the sun. 16 *** When I applied my heart to knowing wisdom and seeing all the business that is done on earth—for day and night it does not get even a glimpse of sleep— 17  I saw all God’s work, how man cannot make out all the work that is done under the sun, inasmuch as man puts himself to trouble looking into it but does not make it out, and even if the wise man professes to know he cannot make it out.


8:2 Var. I: comply (the word comply being still imperative)
8:2 Lit. a king’s mouth
8:2 Lit. the oath of God
8:9 Or to his harm
8:10 Lit. and they would come in, and would go from a holy place, and would be forgotten (var. praised) in the city, that they had done so (or those who had done right)
8:11 Or This too is nonsense. Inasmuch as sentence on evil-doing is not quickly executed, therefore
8:11 Lit. are full in them to do evil
8:12 Or to do evil. Whereas a sinner does evil all along and has a long life, yet I do know
8:12 Var. does evil a hundred times and Conj. does evil very much and
8:15 Or in his trouble
8:16 Or for day nor night does it (or he) get a glimpse
8:16 Or he does not
8:16 Lit. see sleep with its (or his) eyes